There’s probably no better example in the U.S. of the negative impact that inadequate funding has on our infrastructure than public transit, especially for those who rely on it. The DOT recently announced that 16 transit agencies around the country will receive a share of $14.7 million in grants to support comprehensive planning to improve access to public transit. Recipients include the Regional Transportation District and City and County of Denver, the City of Phoenix, and the City of Milwaukee.
While these grants for research and planning have a specific focus for communities that are developing new transit systems or expanding their existing systems, many other transit systems around the country need tremendous TLC. Transit systems in Washington D.C., San Francisco, Boston, New Jersey and more are all ailing and in need of investment.
In Washington, D.C., neglected maintenance and aging cables have caused many safety concerns for the Metro, leading to drastic maintenance regimens that are time-consuming and disruptive to riders. Thus, the cumulative effects of under maintaining have resulted in a huge inconvenience to riders who depend on the system.
In California, San Francisco’s aging transit system, BART, is also suffering from the impact of deferred investment. In response to crumbling tunnel walls and warped tracks, local Bay Area transit proponents are advocating for a $3.5 billion bond to support the transit agency and overhaul the system’s 1970s technology.
The Boston subway system, the T, (MBTA) is also struggling with the pains of old age. Recently, the T orange line, which is at least 32 years old, had an incident where the motor overheated causing smoke to flood the train cars. This was not a first-time experience for Boston, as smoke previously filled another older train car two winters ago. Amid growing concern over aging trains, MBTA is slated to replace them with new and improved cars by 2019.
For the growing number of commuters who rely on transit, this infrastructure plays a vital role in their lives, yet it is one that often struggles the most for funding. Fortunately, states and the federal government recognize these needs and are making strides to invest in, improve and expand our nation’s transit systems to better serve users throughout the country.